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Obama Greets Supporters in Alexandria

Amy Gardner

Sen. Barack Obama arrived at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria just before 2 p.m. today, greeting thousands of supporters in a packed gymnasium and hundreds more hoping for a glimpse outside.

Obama came to Virginia on the heels of a sweeping victory in three smaller states Saturday. He is hoping to ride his momentum to victory in the region in Tuesday's first-ever "Potomac Primary", when voters in D.C., Maryland and Virginia will go to the polls. Obama is expected to do well on all three contests, but just how well could improve his momentum heading into the much larger and more important Texas and Ohio primaries next month.

Obama used Williams' history as a racially and economically divided community -- as told in the book and movie "Remember the Titans" -- to describe his agenda to improve quality and access to public and higher education.

"My story is America's story," Obama told a small roundtable of educators and parents before addressing the much larger crowd. Describing his biography -- he was raised by a single mother and spent years paying off student loans before immediately having to think about starting to save for his children -- Obama said: "The fact that I am even on this stage is a testament to the difference a great education can make."

Joined by Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who has championed an academic pre-kindergarten, as well as U.S. Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) and Alexandria Mayor William D. Euille (D), Obama said he wants to find more federal dollars for early childhood learning, including Head Start. He also wants to provide more incentives for young people to become teachers, and to underwrite college tuition with federal dollars in exchange for a commitment to community or government service.

At the main event, more than 3,000 thrilled supporters chanted "Yes we can!" and stomped their feet on bleachers as Kaine prepped them for the Obama's arrival with fiery speeches.

The crowd roared thunderously as Obama took the stage and spoke of the "fierce urgency of now" that is motivating his campaign. He talked of the millions of children left behind by public schools and millions without health insurance.

"In such a situation, we cannot afford to wait," he said. "We cannot wait to fix our broken schools. We cannot wait to fix our health care system. We cannot wait to address global warming and we cannot wait to end this war in Iraq."

Obama spoke for about 45 minutes to the rapt crowd, and answered questions for another 20 minutes or so. He talked of ending the war in Iraq in 2009, of improving schools and health care and addressing global warming and U.S. energy policy. He talked of facing down Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the general election and made little mention his rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). He challenged the criticism that he hasn't enough Washington experience, and that he is a "talker, and not a doer."

"Nothing worthwhile ever happened in this country without somebody willing to hope," he said.

Obama was scheduled to fly to Norfolk for another rally later today, and then on to Roanoke for an event Monday morning. From there, he was scheduled to hit College Park and Baltimore in preparation for Tuesday's regional primary.

By Amy Gardner  |  February 10, 2008; 3:53 PM ET
Categories:  Amy Gardner  
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Obama coming off victories in Nebraska, Louisanna and Washington state is bound to do well in Virginia. Years ago I was stationed with the Air Force in Hampton, Virgina. Virginia has a longer history than many states as it was among the original 13 colonies. Virginia was the home of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and other historical foundering fathers. While Virginia began as a colony with plantations, today it can make a difference in the next election for President.

I just participated in my Washington state caucus. I was keen to hear what 3 young voters had to say. They spoke for the need to vote for change in the national government. One echoed the encouraging words of Senator Obama. Another spoke about Senator Clinton and her unique experience as First Lady.

We were encouraged to speak out about the Bush administration, and our commitment to electing a Democrat for president. One senior voter shared that he was ashamed of the Bush administration, and he felt the war in Iraq was wrong.

Overall, the attendees were orderly and relatively quiet. We were told there was Quest testing in progress in the upstairs of the School District Office. But I felt there was a quiet determination to take back the White House in this important election. The last two elections have been very close, so I hope folks get out and vote in November. Every vote counts!

Posted by: richard | February 10, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Now we hear that Hillary will not release her tax returns until after she is the Democratic nominee--if that actually happens.

Why does she want to withhold such information from her fellow Democrats?

It seems pretty risky for the Democratic Party to nominate someone who will not level with it.

Why should we trust her? The Clintons don't exactly have reputations as truth tellers.

Diogenes would have given both a wide berth.

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | February 10, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton says that if she passes her health care plan, it will include provisions to garnish workers' wages.

Such confiscatory language shows she has not learned anything from the fight during the 1990s on health care, and how the Democrats will again lose the battle and probably the White House if she is leading the Party.

Experience is all well and good, but one should learn from it.

Clearly Sen. Clinton has not.

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | February 10, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Will someone in the media please ask Hillary this question, on a debate, or for an article:

In an editorial in The Washington Times, Mark Goodman argues that if the Barrett Report is released to the public, which likely will happen if you are the nominee, your candidacy would be a "GOP Ace in the hole." Will you support releasing the Barrett Report now to show you have nothing to hide?

Mark Goodman is a veteran journalist and author of the novel "Hurrah for the Next Man Who Dies."

Posted by: Tariq | February 10, 2008 6:24 PM | Report abuse

I am becoming very tired of reading and hearing about Obamba's complaint of having to pay for his own education. I had to do the same and also pay for the education loans I took out for each degee I received. Also he was not the only one to be "poor" as a child. I was born during the depression, suffered through the second world war, no car, no food without your ration stamps,no food when you got to the store, the practice blackouts and those lost forever. There are many still alive that remember.
Now after having to work all my life, I still have nothing.
Because of the war and poor way our current leader has run the country, all my savings are gone with a martket crashing again. History does repeat itself, and Obama is too young to really feel true sorrow and pain.

Posted by: Edna L Thole | February 10, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

"Obama is too young to really feel true sorrow and pain" This is a ridiculous statement to make about someone 46 years old and both parents are dead.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 10, 2008 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Edna thorpe

what pain and sorrow has Hilary Clinton experienced? She was able to write a check to her campaign for $5,000,000 without "liquidating any investments" i.e she just had it lying around. I guess not earning the interest on the loan is a real sorrow!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 10, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

At the main event, more than 3,000 thrilled supporters chanted "Yes we can!" and stomped their feet on bleachers as Kaine prepped them for the Obama's arrival with fiery speeches.



Posted by: stanford4obama | February 10, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Top comment by Richard, thanks for the kudos to VA but we cannot claim John (or JQ) Adams as native sons, but rather a number of others, including George Mason, who refused to sign the Constitution because it had no Bill of Rights, and James and Dolley Madison. After a long history with some real dark spots, we're coming back!
Don in VA

Posted by: bogbug | February 10, 2008 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmmmm, who should I vote for on Tuesday? Obama? Hillary? Let the bidding begin.

Posted by: VA Primary | February 10, 2008 9:03 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a great and inspirational speaker. However it is time that he start adding substance to his campaign. Yes we can is fine but how? How is he going to pay for all of it?

Posted by: phoaglan | February 10, 2008 9:19 PM | Report abuse

As a veteran (and former Virginian), I'd like to commend Barack Obama as a member of the Senate Veteran Affairs Committee for his effective efforts to help veterans receive better treatment and the fulfillment of promises made but not kept.

Posted by: FirstMouse | February 10, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

Responding to phoaglan's question about how Obama is going to pay for what he is promising: I see two avenues. First, raising taxes on the wealthy and on corporations who export jobs from the US. This will be possible because his amazing grassroots organization will become a fearsome force for lobbying Congress as soon as he's elected. Second, ending the war which is devouring trillions.

Posted by: Smart Old Lady | February 10, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

I've got several problems with the Clintons:
1) She will not divulge her tax returns before she gets nominated? Why? What is she hiding?
2) She now claims that she too will now bring positive changes to Washington. She continues to accept money from D.C lobbyists. In 2006, she was one of their biggest recipients. How is she going to manage this?
3)When are the Clintons going to disclose who contributed how much to the Clinton library. Was Marc Rich among these donors? Again, why this lack of disclosure?

Without full financial disclosures, how can anyone trust this woman or her husband to re-occupy the White House again. Remember the good old days when stays in the Lincoln Bedroom were sold to the highest bidder? Does anyone want to go back to that?

At this point, I would rather take a leap of faith and go with Obama than go with the other known quantity that come with a lot of history and baggage.

Posted by: Chris 1066 | February 10, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

The roanoke event's been canceled because of the high winds and fires in our area! We're all really disappointed here. There was a three block long line this morning to get tickets to the event.

Posted by: James | February 10, 2008 10:55 PM | Report abuse

When support for the Iraq war was at 70% of the American public, Obama had the guts and intelligence to speak out against it. Hillary pandered, as usual, even if she thought it was the wrong thing to do. Why does anyone think she would have better judgment in foreign policy matters than him? Regarding perhaps the worst foreign policy mistake in our country's history, she was wrong. He was right.

Posted by: anne | February 10, 2008 11:02 PM | Report abuse

Smart Old Lady is smart for sure. Too many Americans have written off tax monies being sucked out of America 24/7 into the Mideast, where Halliburton is so confident YOUR money will keep flowing, it has moved its permanent offices there, leaving Oklahoma in the dust bowl, so to speak. The dollars are so many its hard to fathom. What Bush spends in Iraq in one month would cover ten years of the SCHIP he vetoed for our kids.

Posted by: jhbyer | February 11, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Dolley Madison nee Payne was born in NC and moved as a child to PA with her Quaker parents, which is where she met James Madison. She was not a native of Virginia.

Jams Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson were all natives of Virginia.

Posted by: mnjam | February 11, 2008 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Great posts -- my only complaint has to do with the lead-in story. Once again the MSM has fallen for the Clinton campaign justification for their abysmal February by pointing to the "much larger and more important Texas and Ohio primaries next month." In this race, "next month" might as well be "next century." Does anyone realize we're just a few days past one month since the start of all this in Iowa on Jan. 5??? By March 4 this could be a very different race indeed -- as in the Guiliani effect so overwhelming Mrs. Clinton as to make it virtually impossible to right her tattered ship. So the Post is doing a disservice to its readers and the residents of DC/MD/VA in ignoring the larger than life impact another good Obama showing could produce on Tuesday. Now, let's just not sit on our laurels -- Yes, We CAN but we gotta actually do it by showing up at the polls on Tuesday!

Posted by: Bette | February 11, 2008 12:27 AM | Report abuse

es Obama will win.

Posted by: wilberforce akello kenya | February 11, 2008 6:31 AM | Report abuse

I've been a big Obama supporter for quite some time but even so, I'm not at all a Hillary-hater and I've tried to keep a fair and open mind about her good qualities.
But in watching her evolving speeches over the campaign (not just the soundbytes that the media reports, but videos of her ACTUAL speeches), I now have to chuckle to myself. Today I saw one that she did this weekend in a town hall where she's now trying to use the same language as Obama, talking about "change" and "we", and "us doing it together". She didn't talk about those at first. Her big focus was on her experience and how she could go toe-to-toe and beat the Republicans. Now that she sees Obama surging, she's trying to use what has worked so well from him. But that tells me that she doesn't seem to have any original thoughts, and instead is just trying to emulate what has worked for someone else. This is not a quality of a great leader, but instead a mediocre attempt to imitate one. Geez, I hate to say thing, but maybe some of those stories about her watching the polls, then following them have really been true, although I thought they were just being mean to her. How disappointing.

As a woman, I'd love to see woman as president and at one point, I even entertained the idea that her as Prez and Barack as veep would be a good idea - but not anymore. She's not the woman I'd want as president!
Go Obama! He is bright, gifted and he knows what true LEADERSHIP is. We've been without it for so long, many of us don't even recognize it when it comes along. He's not about just getting power, he's about transforming the attitude of this nation, and by the big and enthusiastic turnout I've seen in my own state, he is already on the way to accomplishing that.

Posted by: GMJ | February 11, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Interesting about what is going on. My sons tell me that they will vote for Barack in the Virginia primary and the general election but they both say they will vote for McCain if Hillary is nominated. Both say she hates men, they are 18 and 21.

Posted by: MiddleoftheroadRepublican | February 11, 2008 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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